How is Harrison Bergeron a hero?

People often have a preconceived notion that a character is either evil or good. As people get older they get wiser, and they realize life is not black and white. In the story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

one of the main characters, George, wears a handicap. A handicap is a device to stop him from thinking to much. George’s son, Harrison, comes on a ballet program on the t.v, but because of the handicap, George doesn’t recognize him. Harrison is rebelling against his own handicaps and rips them off,encouraging others to do the same. But then the head of the device administrator comes and shoots Harrison, killing him. Although because of the handicap, George doesn’t remember his son or anything that happened. Harrison Bergeron is a revolutionary hero because he helped the citizens grow to their true potential as well as being a symbol and figure for rebellion . Lastly he was a hero because he was willing to put his life on the line to fight against the absurd laws that destroy the individual to the point of handicapping society’s potential. He is determined to be who he is and set and example of honesty for others.

The first reason why Harrison Bergeron is a hero is because he helped the fellow citizens realize their endless possibilities. One example of this is when Harrison told the musicians to play music. The author shows him helping people grow by comparing the music before and after the handicaps, Music!” he commanded. The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, “Play your best,” he told them (5). The musicians go on to play music that is cheap, silly and false until Harrison strips them of their handicap and they begin to play music that was much better. By including the descriptive words the reader can draw the conclusion that the world is much improved with the handicaps gone. The world would is a dull place with fake emotions because everyone has handicaps, and by Harrison tearing them off he shows a more colorful version of their world. Furthermore being a figure for everyone.

Like mentioned earlier, Harrison is an example of rebellion. This leads to him being a hero. At one point in the story a ballerina on the program, George was watching, has to make an announcement. She says Harrison Bergeron has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, (3) This is the author trying to convey positive attributes like Athlete and genius in a negative light. By doing this the author is making the reader question if the handicaps are righteous or downright immoral. The ballerina also reveals that Harrison is trying to overthrow the government. By having contrast in the author’s story it demonstrates how different Harrison was from what the government wanted him to be. Harrison’s tenacious tendency to be himself is unwavering.

Harrison Bergeron, sacrificed his life just for the chance to be himself and change the world around him for the better. The author states this by having Harrison get shot and die in the end. It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor. (5) this conveys the severity and the government’s immoral aspects. It also is a perfect example of how he fought for what he believed in till the end of his life, because he believed the world would benefit from his leadership.

In closing Harrison Bergeron is a hero, as stated earlier he supported the people around him and encouraged them to develop their talents to their full capability, he was also one of the only people around him fighting back, causing him to be one of the only symbols for rebellion, he was also willing to sacrifice his life to end the governments cruel ways. Only a true hero would relinquish so much to assist others. The reader can take aways a lot from reading Harrison Bergeron, because it makes you realize you don’t always have to conform to the standards of society.

Harrison Bergeron Theme of Competition

Harrison Bergeron was written to give the reader some sort of idea as to what it would be like if there was no competition in the world. The main character is 14, tall, handsome, strong, athletic, smart, and above average in every way imaginable. The author uses humor and irony to depict a rather horrible story of a dystopian society where, all people were truly and fully made equal in every aspect imaginable under the law of the land.

The government made sure that no one could be smarter, prettier, stronger, or in anyway better than the next person. It is not only a story of government control but also a story about social boundaries and conforming to social norms in this made up society.

Competition is in our nature as people. There is always someone out there that is better, smarter, stronger, etc that we are trying to get ahead of. In this short story a woman named Diana Moon Glampers who was the handicapper general was required to come up with ideas to make sure that no one had an unfair advantage over anyone else. If someone was more than average in their intelligence, like the main character in this short story, they were required to wear an earpiece twenty-four hours a day that transmitted horrible noises into their ears in twenty second intervals to blast out the thoughts. Everyone in this society was required to wear sacks with a certain number of lead balls in them depending on their size, strength and other factors determined by the handicapper general, to weigh them down so that they couldn’t move faster than others.

Although unrealistic, this dystopian society draws parallels to the world we live in today. Everyone always competing to see who has the best job, the best house, the best car, etc. In everything we do we are competing against or siblings, peers, and the rest of the world for some sort of gratification. All children get a trophy for being on a sports team just for showing up for practices and games, just so that they don’t feel inferior to the children that are athletically inclined or the children who work harder and put in more time than the others to make themselves better.

The author uses extreme irony throughout the short story to illustrate just how ridiculous life was in this made up world. All TV/radio announcers had some sort of speech impediment, sometimes so severe that they couldn’t make the announcements that they were supposed to make. For example when the ballerina decided to read the announcement over live tv the narrator said She had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. Excuse me- she said and began again making her voice completely uncompetitive.

The advancement of technology is a big theme in this writing because of the use of all the handicapping devices. Everyone in this society had to wear a bag chained around their neck with a certain number of lead balls so no one would be stronger or faster than anyone else. For every ball you took out of your bag it was $2000 and 2 years in jail. If you had more than average intelligence you were to wear a mental handicap which played piercing noises in your ears so that you were not able to think clearly. If you could see better than everyone else, you would have to wear glasses to impair your vision. And if you didn’t look average, you would have to wear a mask so that no one felt threatened by your beauty. The more above average you looked, the uglier the mask you were made to wear. The main character, Harrison, had to wear big headphones that covered his ears, glasses that impaired his vision as well as giving him debilitating migraines. He was made to carry three hundred pounds of scrap metal on his body and, because of his good looks, was always made to wear a red ball on his nose 24 hours a day and to keep his eyebrows shaved.

Equality in Harrison Bergeron

In 2081 everyone was equal and the same. If you were superior to someone in any way theylimit you to make everyone equal in every way. In this society if you stick out from the crowdpeople get jealous and limit you and discriminate against you.

The characters in this rare Harrison, George, Hazel, and the handicapper general. The characters are all equal and alsoknown as handicapped to limit the strong or pretty people to make everyone equal. Thehandicapper general is in charge of keeping everyone the same. This story starts off with Hazeland George watching the ballerinas dance in an awkward manner because they have to haveweights to limit themselves from being too good. Harrison is 14 and 7 feet tall and he isn’t happy with being handicapped and disagrees withthe government.

In the story it says Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen, she said in a gracklesquawk, has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow thegovernment. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded asextremely dangerous (Vonnegut 2). If the government didn’t do this he would not be upset andcould be superior in his own ways to everyone and makes him special. Harrison is in jailbecause he was planning to overthrow the government and considered insane. He always hasheavy weights to handicap him for being better than other people. He breaks out of jail andinstead of using violence to overthrow the government he goes on tv, takes off his handicapsand dances with a pretty ballerina with her handicap off and gets shot by the handicap general.

Hazel is the mother of Harrison that is not handicapped and she watches the ballerinas withGeorge on tv together. She is also mentally slow and cannot focus for very long. In the story itstates Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do? Said Hazel. Hazel wasa strong resemblance to the handicap general, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers. If Iwas Diana Moon Glampers said Hazel. I’d have chimes on Sunday” just chimes. Kind of inhonor of religion(Vonnegut 2). She is saying how she wants some sort of respect or honor in areligion. George is Harrison’s father and he has an intelligent mind so he was handicapped on thehead. In the story it says And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a littlemental handicap radio in his ear(Vonnegut 1). If the government didn’t do this he would behappy and and could be himself and would be able to use his brain for good and not be keptaway. George has a thing in his ear all the time so he doesn’t think to fast and disrupts histhinking with noises. He tries to think of things that will interfere with the government but theystop him with the headphones that he always have to wear by law.

In conclusion the characters all represent something in human nature for example, Harrisonrepresents freedom and the government doesn’t want that because they want everyone to beequal. Hazel and George are the example of the people that follows the laws. They sit back anddon’t retaliate because they can’t do anything about it.

What is the Role of Media in Harrison Bergeron?

Television is a powerful symbol which stresses the concept of equality and the enforcement of laws. The ballerinas performing on television are burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. One ballerina who reads the bulletin hides her warm, luminous, timeless melody of a voice, and instead, speaks in a grackle squawk.

These ballerinas are forced to dance carrying heavy weights, wear hideous masks, and speak in a different voice in order to make others watching feel equal.

By showing television performers as equal to everyone else, the government sets the tone of sameness in every aspect of citizens’ lives. The government also uses television to show warnings when seriously dangerous people are on the loose. When Harrison escapes from jail, an emergency broadcast is made: Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen…has just escaped from jail…he is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.

A police photo of Harrison also flashes on screen; he is covered in heavy scraps of metal, thick wavy glasses, and tremendous earphones in order to obstruct his immense intelligence and athleticism. This photo is broadcasted to intimidate citizens, showing them the most extreme hindrances. While Harrison and the ballerina are gracefully dancing, Diana Moon Glampers storms in and shoots them dead: It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.” This public punishment demonstrates the power the government holds over all its citizens. It provides a threatening example of what will happen if citizens do not follow the law.

Harrison Bergeron Literary Analysis

All men are created equal.” This famous phrase found in the Declaration of Independence is often thought to be an immortal declaration of the American Revolution with great continuing importance. This concept denotes the idea of equal opportunity for all American citizens, but what would happen if a government, or some other power, took this notion literally? Is it actually possible to make everyone perfectly equal in every aspect of life? Does leveling the playing field mean that everyone wins, or that no one does? There are many negative feelings and harsh criticisms expressed toward the idea of a socialist government. However, the consequences of this exact situation were actually forecast back in 1961 by Kurt Vonnegut in his short story Harrison Bergeron, which imagines a futuristic world based on literal equality.

Through his use of satire in the short story, Harrison Bergeron, Vonnegut mocks common fears of creating a socialist government in order to convince readers that socialism is not as dangerous as one might think.

Vonnegut argues how ridiculous some of these fears, such as enforced equality and the power of government officials, are through the continual use of apathetic tone. This is expressed through a lack of seriousness, calmly inadequate reactions, and frivolous sarcasm expressed through the shallow remarks of characters. This tone becomes especially prominent through the dialogue of George and Hazel Bergeron as they speak concerning their son, Harrison: There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about. The use of a careless, flippant tone expressed through Hazel’s response allows Vonnegut to make his point that socialism would never influence someone so greatly that it would control the individual thoughts and feelings that make us human. Even though George and Hazel witness the tragic death of their own son on live television, they respond in a completely passive and indifferent manner as if it meant nothing to them. Vonnegut uses this example to emphasize the distance placed between the character’s emotions and the reality of the event in order to show that the fear of socialism dehumanizing us is irrational. It is unfathomable in the minds of readers that someone could be desensitized to tragedy to such a great extent that he or she would forget the death of a child so easily and quickly. This concept supports Vonnegut’s claim by implying that a socialistic society could never have so much power over us that it would define who we are as people and limit the love and compassion we have for others.

Through his use of an apathetic tone, Vonnegut is able to subtly undermine the misconception that socialism would alienate individuals from basic human nature. Vonnegut successfully adds depth to this apathetic tone by incorporating humor to create a sense of sarcasm and dampen the seriousness of the issue being addressed. Vonnegut accomplishes this by describing some of the handicaps that were implemented in order to achieve equality: [The ballerinas] were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. This line is humorous because ballerinas typically symbolize grace and beauty. But, in order to eliminate competition and unfair advantages, the ballerinas were disabled to such an extent that their purpose was essentially defeated. The imagery in these sentences allows the reader to visualize the absurdity of the situation in a light, comical manner. The use of humor also allows Vonnegut to address a more pressing matter at hand without directly stating his position. The use of irony is also a prevalent literary device throughout the length of the short story that helps reveal Vonnegut’s purpose and stance on socialism. America is often thought to be a representation of freedom. The American Dream, for example, revolves around the idea that anyone, regardless of background, can achieve success and prosperity through hard work and determination. The main irony of Harrison Bergeron is the handicap system enforced by the government to ensure that all citizens within the society are equal. The first paragraph of the story states: The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. This opening sentence portrays verbal irony because the author implies that there is equality. However, Vonnegut uses this sarcasm in an attempt to express the underlying message that coerced equality is not equality at all. Vonnegut takes this stand to not only relate to the majority of his audience through shared beliefs and values but also to communicate that opposing views of society may not be as different as they appear. By placing this ironic statement in the first sentence in the story, the reader feels an instant connection with the author and has a reason to trust his opinion later in the story. Vonnegut again uses irony within the first paragraph to further support his claim: This equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution. The additional amendments are ironic because equality usually gives everyone the same advantages and opportunities, not the same disadvantages.

Instead of providing everyone with the same advantages necessary for individuals to reach his or her full potential, the constitutional amendments in this futuristic society prohibit progress by making the weakest link a standard model and disadvantage its members in order to ensure that no one is better than anyone else. The reference to the Constitution is also made in order to stress the loss of freedom–the basis on which the American country was built–through excessive rules that had been implemented. It is ironic because the purpose of the Constitution today is to protect certain unalienable rights and freedoms for all American citizens. This revised, futuristic version that Vonnegut fabricates only deprives the country of all that it once stood for. Vonnegut purposely uses this ironic, unlikely situation in order to emphasize his point that equality will not eliminate the fundamental freedoms that we enjoy today as many people fear.

Finally, the use of absurdity employed throughout Harrison Bergeron further provides Vonnegut opportunity to expose the dysfunctional idea that people can truly be made equal. He expresses this absurdity through the description of one ballerina in particular: She must have been extraordinarily beautiful because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men. This line contains absurdity because the ability to observe the ballerina’s repulsive mask and recognize it as an indication of her extraordinary beauty proves Vonnegut’s point that true equality is unattainable. He proves repeatedly through examples such as this that people remain fundamentally the same despite ongoing changes and circumstances that may surround them. Based on her description, the reader knows that she is more beautiful and strong than anyone else in the room–even though it is hidden by an attractive mask and some heavy weights. Vonnegut’s use of absurdity in this unrealistic hypothetical world supports his claim that true equality can never be obtained, and ultimately, cannot succeed. Equality is something our country strives to achieve, but at what lengths? Vonnegut’s exploration of a truly equal society through the use of satire in his short story, Harrison Bergeron, allows his audience gain a new perspective regarding the effects of socialism on a country. Vonnegut masterfully captures the common irrational fears of socialism and exposes them through the use of an apathetic tone, irony, and absurdity.

Repressive Society in Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut

The year is 2081, the addition of the 211th, 212 and 213 amendments to the Constitution makes everyone “equal”, George and Hazel Bergeron have a child named Harrison, Harrison is taken away from them when Harrison is 14. George has a radio in his ear because of his above average intelligence while Hazel has no handicap because she would be considered average by Harrison, however, has many handicaps because in the story he is considered a “… a genius, an athlete, is under-handicapped”

In the story, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Jr, the government handicaps those whom they think are above average, so they handicap them to make them equal. For Instance, “It was then that the Bergerons’ television tube burned out. Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George. But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of bear. George came back in with the beer, then paused while a handicap signal shook him up. and then he sat down again”(quote is taken from the story)The evidence shows the reader that the government controls the thoughts of its citizens because after the death of Harrison and the ballerina is shown on television, the radio handicap went off, disrupting the people’s ability to think. Like George Bergeron. It appears to the reader that the government makes sure that it has control over its citizens so that they do not remember the death of Harrison and the ballerina. In the scene where George’s handicaps are described, Kurt Vonnegut uses description to show the reader how the government handicaps George so he is “equal” to everyone else. This connects to the theme that through the use of physical and mental handicaps the government seeks to achieve total equality throughout its citizens, however, this only causes more problems than it solves.

The government handicaps its citizens so everybody is considered “Equal”. For Instance, “Hazel had perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would end out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantages of their brains.”(quote is taken from the story). In the scene, it explains that Hazel is considered “average” so she does not need any physical or mental handicaps. While George, on the other hand, does have a mental handicap because “…his intelligence was way above normal,”(quote is taken from the story) so he is required by law to wear it at all times. This shows that the government acknowledges George’s above average intelligence so to make sure he stays in line with others, the government tortures him by forcing him to wear a mental handicap at all times. Kurt Vonnegut uses the description of his characters to describe how Hazel is not handicapped but George is handicapped. This connects to the theme that through the use of physical and mental handicaps the government seeks to achieve total equality throughout its citizens, however, this only causes more problems than it solves.

The government should not have complete control over its citizens. While one could present the argument that the government should not have complete control over its citizens, but however they’re naive ways of thinking may forget that in the story, it says “Hazel had perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains”(quote is taken from the text this implies that the government does not have total control over Hazel.

Through the use of physical and mental handicaps the government seeks to achieve total equality throughout its citizens, however, this only causes more problems than it solves. After Harrison and the ballerina are killed on TV, the government sets of the radio handicapped so people cannot remember the death of Harrison and the ballerina. Having complete control over society is unhealthy for the people.

Short Story Analysis: Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut

In Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, the setting contributes significantly towards the meaning of the story. Set in the year 2081, an alternate reality in which the future USA government achieved equality among all citizens by enacting amendments that handicap those whom surpass other citizens in strength and talent. Vonnegut gives a satire tone towards America’s desire to have equality and fairness.

Vonnegut criticizes the idea of absolute equality in Harrison Bergeron and argues permitting political leaders to make laws that prohibit the citizens individuality and competitive nature. The short story Harrison Bergeron introduces the son of the two main characters, George and Hazel Bergeron, and has been taken at the young age of fourteen. Later in the story, Harrison returns, interrupting a broadcast of which is found out that he has remarkable strengths and intelligence, as an escapee from jail wanting to overthrow the government and help the citizens of the society.

Vonnegut’s point of view helps me understand his short story, the satire tone ridicules the idea of the United State wanting absolute equality. Vonnegut mocks the government for letting the amendments, that would create absolute equality, be enacted. The power of the government can be dangerous and condemning if the citizens empower their leaders to restrict citizens’ rights in any manner. For example, from the passage, “Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.”( Vonnegut 1) Those that had above average intelligence are limited to be equal to the rest of society. I believe his tone indicates a displeasure for the citizens that let their leaders become over powered.

In the extreme case of society in 2081, they attempted and succeeded in eliminating all the stress associated with performing and having to be competitive. For example, when George and Hazel are watching ballerinas on television, he observed them as, They weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. The reason was because of the limitations even professionals were under. “They were burdened with sash weights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in”( Vonnegut 1). I think this means that the people also did not want to feel like they were less attractive to their spouse or loved one. Those of whom were known to have above average intelligence had mental restrictions along with those that were physically better than others.

The consequences of letting political leaders become too powerful can be a great. People knowingly adopt amendments that would give the government the right to develop and use technology to monitor citizens is far-fetched. These laws were implemented because not all citizens were aware or because most were just afraid. From the story Hazel said, “If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few”( Vonnegut 2). of which George replied, “Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out” (Vonnegut 2). The fine for alleviating the weight from a person would result in hefty fines. It seems to me that the intelligent are also watched in their home so they do pose a threat. The narrator’s point of view is mocking the idea of the government creating absolute equality.

The Vonnegut then brings Harrison back into the scene. He reintroduces Harrison by using a breaking news report while George and Hazel where watching TV. Later to find out he is a fugitive with incredible strength and an intelligent mind because and he does not want to where limitations. As this man claimed to be the new emperor and started to free those around him, the United States Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor (Vonnegut 5). Vonnegut illustrates Harrison as a revolutionary that want freedom for the citizens. Harrison was too dangerous for a government with little patience for those that broke the law. For example, from the passage, “Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on (Vonnegut 5). Even though it was Harrison that broke them off, the Handicappers saw the musicians as a threat without the limitations.

In conclusion, Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s satire tone in the short story suggests he argues against the idea of absolute equality . He ridicules the protagonists because they rather live with the limitations then have freedom. Vonnegut’s story is an alternate future reality were we head down a path where our government is taking power away from the people by implementing laws and passing bills that would favor their longevity. The improvement of technology is making this possible as well as the underlying greed most leaders have.